Thousands register for new SC credit protection service

Greenville NewsOctober 25, 2013 

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MCT

— About 33,000 South Carolinians have enrolled as of Friday afternoon in the state’s new identity theft protection service but some who want the service may just now be learning they are ineligible.

The protection, which costs affected taxpayers nothing, is only open this year to the pool of taxpayers officials have determined had their data exposed by last year’s hacking of the state Revenue Department — taxpayers who filed electronically between the years of 1998 and 2012.

Dr. Jonathan Pinner of Travelers Rest told The Greenville News he tried enrolling with the state’s new service provider, CS Identity Corp., only to be rejected because he did not file electronically. He said an agent told him he also had to file electronically last year.

Pinner, who enrolled he and his family in Experian after the company provided its credit-monitoring service to taxpayers last year, said that all taxpayers should have been notified in advance that only those who filed electronically are covered.

He said he is “very disappointed in the leadership and the leadership's obscuring of the facts.”

Doug Mayer, a spokesman for Gov. Nikki Haley, said anyone who filed electronically between the years of 1998 and 2012 is eligible with CSID. He said that is the group whose data was hacked.

When officials signed a contract with Experian last year to provide credit monitoring, the investigation of the data breach was still ongoing and Experian did not screen out all those who filed paper returns.

A spokeswoman for the state Department of Revenue said Experian’s enrollment requirements were the same as those for CSID.

Officials have said that it was only those who filed electronic returns that are vulnerable because it was their data that was exposed in the breach.

“The people who are eligible are those who were possibly exposed when the hack occurred,” Mayer said.

The number thus far enrolled by CSID totals about 2 percent of the number that ultimately enrolled after four months with Experian. Experian’s contract was signed by Haley as news surfaced about the data breach that exposed 3.8 million Social Security numbers, 3.3 million bank account numbers, and data for nearly 700,000 businesses.

Experian had signed up about 418,000 last year after about five days of enrollment.

“I think it’s been a year and people have sort of forgotten about the data breach,” said House Majority Leader Bruce Bannister, who chaired a committee investigating the breach. “They’re not as mad or concerned that their information was leaked. So it’s not a surprise that we’re having less response than we had originally.”

In fact, Bannister said, experts told his committee that any stolen data becomes more valuable with age because people tend to forget about the hacking and let their guard down.

Sen. Kevin Bryant of Anderson, who co-chaired a Senate committee looking into the breach, also said he wasn’t surprised the numbers are so low right now.

“I’m just not running into any constituents that are talking about it,” he said. “Folks are busy. Football and fall weather and school and work. We need to get the word out to folks to sign up.”

Mayer said, however, that the numbers thus far are a good start.

"It is a very positive sign that over 20,000 individuals signed up with CSID on the first day of enrollment," he said. "The governor encourages all individuals, families, and businesses to continue taking advantage of this state-provided credit and identity protection."

About 1.5 million South Carolinians have enrolled in Experian, the credit-monitoring service hired by Haley last year.

CSID won the new contract and will be paid a maximum of $8.5 million by the state, though what they are paid depends on the numbers they sign up.

CSID plans to mail letters to out-of-state taxpayers beginning next month, the company said.

Those interested in CSID's protection plan, which is free to affected taxpayers, can visit their website at www.scidprotection.com or call 855-880-2743. Enrollment will remain open until October 1, 2014.

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